By: Jeffrey D. Stauffer – Executive Director – Elville Center for the Creative Arts, Inc.
The life of the arts, far from being an interruption, a distraction, in the life of the nation, is close to the center of a nation’s purpose – and is a test to the quality of a nation’s civilization. John F. Kennedy
As the Elville Center for the Creative Arts looks ahead to 2023, the foundation of its mission remains the same as we work to “Make a Musical Difference in the Lives of Children” each day by providing them the opportunity to learn music theory and application, experience cultural events related to the musical and creative arts, and to use music and the promotion of music-related activities to transcend social and economic divisions. The Elville Center partners with school music programs, arts organizations, and local businesses to give the gift of music to children of all ages who want to participate in music but don’t have the means to do so on their own. The Elville Center refurbishes donated musical instruments, purchases new instruments for programs, provides rental instruments, offers support to develop new music programs, partners with professional symphonies and other organizations to fund music education initiatives, and much more.
As I’ve mentioned before, now more than ever the support of interested clients, financial advisors, and community members like you is critical to the Elville Center’s continued ability to keep music alive, and in many cases help restore music to schools and the thousands of student musicians in Maryland that aren’t afforded the opportunities they desire to participate in music. During my travels to schools throughout central Maryland, I have seen firsthand the tragedy that has occurred when music programs have been deemphasized. Countless programs in existence don’t have the necessities to function properly to give student musicians the experiences they deserve. Teachers do not have their own money to pour into their programs to pay for needed equipment, supplies, and instruments. This has become even more of an issue now that students are coming back to music after they left during Covid. While it is great to see numbers of students in music programs increasing again, funding for music remains extremely low and there are not enough instruments and equipment to go around for every student that wants to participate. With inflation rearing its ugly head, even more students than before cannot afford the necessities to play in band or orchestral programs.
If you’ve ever thought about getting involved and supporting the Elville Center, now is the time to do so!
Over the past several months the Elville Center has been blessed being busy strengthening current relationships and building new ones as we work hard to assist as many music programs and student musicians as possible. Just some of our many stories of partnership and possibility are below. And to reiterate – these stories would not be possible without donations from people like you who support organizations like the Elville Center!
The Annapolis Symphony Orchestra Sponsorship and Annapolis Symphony Academy
For a sixth consecutive season, the Elville Center is continuing its support as a major sponsor of the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra, a professional orchestra in Annapolis based in historic Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts. In 2021 the Elville Center agreed to a five-year commitment to continue as a major sponsor of the ASO’s educational programs, including its Annapolis Symphony Academy, which we’ve discussed in depth on these very pages.
As mentioned before but worth repeating (as we like to say, we are sometimes “intentionally redundant” here at the firm and charity to articulate important points), according to the Academy’s “Model for Diversity” on its website, “Half of the Annapolis Symphony Academy student body is comprised of underrepresented minorities (in today’s U.S. orchestras) in a model that emphasizes interaction and mutual respect. Regardless of a student’s cultural background, and through the incredible generosity of our donors, the Academy awards up to fifty percent of its annual tuition revenue in need-based scholarships. We believe this model provides a truly diverse student body, as it merges two overlapping, yet nonidentical, concepts of equality onto one program. Students are selected for the program strictly based on merit as well as their drive to learn and become better musicians.”
Earlier this year we donated a resounding 35 instruments to the Academy in support of its student musicians as they further their musical talents through this groundbreaking educational initiative. This fall, the Elville Center donated two outstanding cellos (very rarely seen but greatly appreciated donations from interested donors!) that were much needed and put to immediate use at the Academy for its student musicians.
As an added benefit to our partnership, the Annapolis Symphony has graciously provided free tickets to several of its concerts to Elville and Associates’ clients over the past year. Be on the lookout for further information from me about additional free ticket offerings from the Symphony in the near future!
Southgate Elementary School in Glen Burnie
Being referred to another school music program by a satisfied music teacher is always satisfying and a pleasure, and that is certainly the case as it relates to Mr. Timothy Jessilonis, Strings and Band Teacher at Southgate Elementary School in Glen Burnie. I had the pleasure of meeting Tim in October after being referred to him by our friend, Ms. Carol Cox Forbes, at Bodkin Elementary School.
After speaking with “Mr. J” as they call him at the school, I heard a story I have heard all too often – this fall semester his program exhausted its supply of instruments for students who said they would be unable to rent. Last year he had 145 band and orchestral students while this year he has close to 200. This is a typical trend in that students unfortunately left music during Covid; however, they are now coming back as the classroom musical experience is back to normal and more appealing to them. Despite obtaining some new instruments in a variety of ways, he still had to turn some students away or, for the time being, move them into a “drumming group” (not an ideal situation). He went on to say he ran out of practically every type of instrument, which was unheard of for his program.
This is where, thanks to donor support, the Elville Center was able to step in and provide assistance. The charity provided a total of 22 instruments to Southgate’s music program, including trumpets, clarinets, flutes, trombones, various sizes of violins with new bows, snare drums, saxophones and an electric drum pad.
As Mr. J said, “From the Southgate Elementary Band and Strings program, thank you so much for the instruments that were donated this week. Our program has grown from 145 to 195 students this year. We are a Title 1 school, and many of our families are unable to provide instruments to students. I work hard to obtain instruments and maintain our fleet, but we came up very short this year. In the few days since your donation, these instruments have gone to immediate use. One student who wanted to play violin at the beginning of the school year got started this week with one of your violins and she is flying! Another student who has been in my percussion class finally got to get started on the saxophone. My best flute player just about lost her mind when I showed her the piccolo for her to begin experimenting with. These instruments will bring more kids to our program for years to come.”
To say that Mr. J was surprised and overwhelmed at our ability to support his program with so many like new, refurbished instruments is an understatement. As he put it, he would now be able to bring those students in the drumming group out of “percussion purgatory” and have them start playing the instruments they really want to play! I also have a standing offer to assist him with any reeds and other supplies his program may need, but he was so overwhelmed by the influx of instruments he said he would be getting back to me about that soon. A great story and the reason we do what we do!
Chesapeake Bay Middle School in Pasadena
It is always a pleasure visiting Christine Brimhall and her music program, so much so that at her request we followed her to her new school at Chesapeake Bay Middle School in Pasadena. Ms. Brimhall is the Director of Instrumental Music at her new school and is known for turning music programs around into well-oiled machines over time! And, with a little help from her friends – including the Elville Center – that will be the case at Chesapeake Bay Middle in no time.
Ms. Brimhall was in need of several instruments and supplies to support her influx of students into her music program as well, so the Elville Center was able to donate five full-sized violins with new bows, two flutes, two trombones, two trumpets, one piccolo and purchased eight boxes of new reeds for woodwind instruments.
“The students that will use these items are students that are unable to rent instruments,” noted Ms. Brimhall. “With your donations, more students can participate in instrumental music. In addition, these items will remain at the school so future students can participate in our music program. We are grateful for your support!”
And, to that we say we appreciate music teachers like you, Ms. Brimhall, who go above and beyond to make music fun for students and relevant in schools!
Monarch Academy in Annapolis
As we have partnered with Monarch Academy in Annapolis for several years, this International Baccalaureate® (IB) Primary Years Programme World School has a robust inventory of instruments thank in large part to our support over the years. However, as is the case in most schools, there is no funding in place for vital supplies and equipment such as reeds and strings that make these instruments function unless the teacher pays out of pocket for them! Former teacher Ms. Brimhall introduced us to Monarch’s new Instrumental Music Teacher, Ms. Amie Brannon, and we were able to outfit her band with 12 boxes of woodwind reeds that will help support her new band performers for a good while!
Sisters Academy of Baltimore
As mentioned in our summer update, we have much going on with Sisters Academy of Baltimore. The Academy is “a tuition-free, Catholic, community-centered middle school that educates girls of different races, ethnicities and religions from families with limited economic means in southwest and west Baltimore. The Academy empowers its students to become agents of transformation in their families, communities, and society.” In May, I had the pleasure of meeting with Ms. Jeanne Dolamore, Principal; Ms. Eileen Phelps, Development Director; and Ms. Alison Johnson, Music Teacher, at the Halethorpe-based Academy to learn about the school, its staff and students, and its music program’s current situation, its vision and needs. The Elville Center was able to exceed our original plan goals and deliver the following items to Sisters Academy at the start of the fall semester:
- Purchased 15 music stands and provided seven additional stands that were donated to the charity to the Academy. This was seven more than Ms. Johnson mentioned would make an immediate impact for the program
- Donated 11 requested musical instruments to the program, including five flutes, three violins with bows, two trombones, one clarinet, and one keyboard and refurbished two saxophones, one baritone, one clarinet and one flute in the Academy’s inventory
- Donate several extra violin bows and a cello bow
- With a remarkable, generous donation by long-time client and friend of the Elville Center, Mr. Mark Herlson, the charity was able to replace one of the sets of Suzuki Chromatic ToneChimes that was in disrepair and being held together by tape. The students now have a brand new set with which they are now making amazing, beautiful music!
The Columbia Orchestra
The Elville Center is once again proud to support and sponsor the guest artists at The Columbia Orchestra’s Family Holiday Concert and Young People’s Concert (Peter and the Wolf) for a sixth consecutive year. This year’s Concerts will take place on Saturday, December 17th and Saturday, April 15th, respectively, at The Jim Rouse Theatre in Columbia. Tickets can be purchased at www.columbiaorchestra.org.
At the Family Holiday Concert, families will enjoy the marvelous sounds of the holiday season, including Christmas carols, highlights from The Nutcracker with dancers from Dance Connections, Hanukkah songs, and other family-friendly favorites.
The Young People’s Concert is always a highlight of The Columbia Orchestra’s yearly schedule and it is back and better than ever! Narrator Greg Jukes and Dance Connections join the Orchestra for Prokofiev’s immortal Peter and the Wolf, Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty, Encanto, and more!
Marley Middle School in Glen Burnie
As of the writing of this article, we were just introduced to this potential new partnership by our longtime friend and Anne Arundel County Music Teacher Dr. Max Vanderbeek. We will be meeting with the school’s music teacher, Ms. Allie Anthony, after the holidays and will have an update on our progress in helping this school with its music program in our next update!
Lastly, be on the lookout for further information about our 1st annual Elville Center for the Creative Arts Golf Classic to be held in 2023 at Waverly Woods Golf Course in Marriottsville! All proceeds will go to support the Elville Center’s endeavors to “Make a Musical Difference in the Lives of Children’ and create more stories like the ones you’ve just read about. This day of golf, music, fun, and fellowship will sell out quickly so stay tuned for more details about tickets and sponsorships as they become available!
The Elville Center needs your support to further its important work and help develop new relationships that are depending on the charity. Every one of the refurbished instruments and equipment the Elville Center provides music programs along with educational initiatives we support are not possible without donor support. We need those instruments that you don’t use anymore and are taking up space. And, most importantly, we need your monetary support to help refurbish those instruments, purchase supplies, and facilitate cultural learning experiences for student musicians in need. As a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation, all donations made to the Elville Center are tax-deductible. To donate or learn more about the Elville Center for the Creative Arts, please visit www.elvillecenter.org, contact Jeff Stauffer at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 443-676-9691 (Jeff’s mobile number). We appreciate and value your support!